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Sink Clogs: Knowing When To Call A Plumber

A clogged kitchen sink can ruin your whole outlook on life. Many homeowners routinely include new sinks and hardware in their long-term home-improvement plans, but too often they replace basins and fixtures without significantly improving their drainage. While drain cleaners and solvents are readily available at home-improvement stores and supermarkets, there usually comes a time when nothing works but elbow grease - your own or the plumber's.

The main culprit in most kitchen sink blockages is the regular build-up of cooking greases and fat deposits in the pipe. Chemical drain cleaners can help widen the diameter that's choked down with grease, but once a dense sink clog blocks the pipe, you need more drastic measures. In some cases, traditional sink plungers or newer power plungers can save the day. But you ultimately may have to clean the sink trap and pipes with a plumber's snake or call in professional help.

Check the Sink Trap
Starting with the trap might spare you the cost of a plumber or having to clear the pipe with a snake. In most homes, the kitchen sink comes with a U trap or Bottle trap. The traps are located just beneath the plughole on most kitchen sinks and washbasins. If you've inadvertently washed a large, clogging object or substance into the sink, you'll probably find it here.

U traps on older sinks can be made of brass or lead. Since they can be easily damaged and are costly to replace with restored hardware, you may want to call in a plumber to unclog debris in them. Newer sinks use plastic U traps, and you can usually get them off by unscrewing the locking nuts above and below the trap.

Once you've cleared the U trap and are ready to replace it, be sure to wind Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) sealing tape around the threads on both sides to prevent leaks. The tape is inexpensive and can spare you a lot of grief.

Bottle traps are easier to handle. They usually unscrew easily without a wrench and you can run a metal coat hangar through them and rinse out any residue. It's probably a good idea to apply disinfectant to the trap and connecting pipe to kill off smelly bacteria.

If the trap is clear and you still have blockages, then you may have to snake the waste pipe itself.

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.